Pina Violano awarded 2011 Child Passenger Safety Technician of the year

April 1, 2011 - Injury Free Coalition for Kids of New Haven

Hamden resident, Giuseppina (Pina) Violano, just added “National Child Passenger Safety Technician of the Year” to her list of awards and accolades. As Yale-New Haven Hospital’s Injury Prevention Coordinator, child passenger safety is both a passion, as well as one of the hospital’s most significant injury prevention initiatives, considering that the leading cause of death and serious injury for young children are vehicle crashes. The U.S. currently has 34,300 certified child passenger safety technicians trained to install and educate caregivers on the proper use of car and booster seats. The National Child Passenger Safety Board chose to recognize one exemplary technician for their work and dedication to this field.

Pina has proven that she is not only committed to creating and maintaining a model child passenger safety program for the hospital, but also demonstrates outstanding commitment to educating caregivers and other public health professionals on the community and state level. She is currently working with the CT DOT to establish a car seat “fitting station.”

While majoring in nursing, Violano chose to minor in Spanish at Quinnipiac College, a considerable asset to communication with a diverse population. Additionally, her first language was Italian, as her family moved to the U.S. when she was a child. Violano appreciates the cultural differences regarding safety and seatbelt use that contribute to low usage rates among those immigrating to the U.S. She hopes to help overcome the factors that contribute to the injuries and deaths of immigrant children as a result of vehicle crashes. She takes opportunities to educate the public regarding child passenger safety laws and the appropriate seat and proper use of restraints for children. She works to ensure that educational materials (such as PowerPoint presentations and literature) are available in Spanish. This advocate often schedules Saturday car seat check-up events to reach as many families as possible. Her outreach allows her to work with churches, Boys and Girls Clubs, Kids in Crisis, a domestic violence advocacy group, medical taxi services, and refugee clinics.

Violano has also partnered with “Healthy Neighbors,” a local coalition that assists low-income families with healthcare needs. By procuring a grant through Yale-New Haven Hospital Auxiliary, she has been able to work with Dorel and Evenflo to purchase seats at cost to provide free car and booster seats to caregivers who would not have been able to afford to purchase a new seat. Since becoming a certified technician in 2008, Pina has distributed over 350 seats.

Violano worked as an ICU nurse for 12 years, Clinical Nurse Educator for 14 years, and with the assistance of tuition reimbursement she earned her MSPH (Master’s in Public Health) from Southern Connecticut State University. She has recently completed all the requirements for her doctoral degree in public health from Walden University. She is currently working on her dissertation, and chose child passenger safety as her topic. As part of her research, she is working with Connecticut’s Department of Public Health (DPH) to analyze the state’s crash data over a seven-year period, related to motor vehicle injuries in children under age 12.

The National Child Passenger Safety Board awarded Pina with the first annual Child Passenger Safety Technician of the Year Award at the Lifesavers Conference in Phoenix, Arizona, on March 26, 2011. The Lifesavers Conference is an annual, national conference on highway safety attended by thousands in the fields of law enforcement, traffic safety, statewide and national highway safety planning, injury prevention, and public health.

When asked how a role-model child passenger safety technician, successful career woman, hard-working doctoral candidate, and mother of four girls (Cristina, 19; Marcella, 17; Giana, 12; and Daniela, 9) can possibly balance her home and professional life, she credited her “wonderful husband, Paul” as a secret to her success.